Thomas Sinclair's Wildly Racist Claim for Henry Sinclair's Discovery of America
I’m sure you remember Steve St. Clair and his Sinclair/St. Clair DNA Project. Despite his denials, his website states that he has had “no choice” but to investigate whether Native Americans intermarried with the Sinclair crew and thus inherited Sinclair DNA.* As you may know, Steve St. Clair isn’t the first person to suggest as much, and today I’d like to share with you the crazy racist ideas of Thomas Sinclair, another member of the extended Sinclair lineage from more than a century ago. His ideas lay bare the original agenda of the Sinclair fantasists, one that the modern representatives of the idea may not even be aware of.
[* This sentence was amended to remove a reference to the Knights Templar, which Steve St. Clair denies has a connection to the Sinclair story.]
Thomas Sinclair, M.A. wrote several books in the late 1800s, many of which focused on various aspects of the Sinclair lineage and bloodline. At the time, the dominant alternative theory was that the Norse had discovered America in Viking times, an idea that would eventually be proved true in 1960 with the discovery of L’anse-aux-Meadows. At the time, however, it was still speculative but widely entertained by scholars.
One must remember, of course, that at the time Britain was busy crafting its global empire and seeking a suitable myth in support of its imperial adventures. Granting the Norwegians pride of place in discovering America struck many as sacrilegious, hence the upswing in Prince Madoc stories of the “Welsh” discovery of America. Among the Scots, the Scottish Henry Sinclair seemed a better claimant. Because Henry held his earldom from the Norse king, he therefore could reasonably be attached to the Viking voyages to Vinland and thus allow him a plausible path to establishing the first colony in what is now North America. In America, by contrast, WASPs of all stripes expressed vague discomfort with the idea that an Italian (Columbus) had discovered America, an awkward fact for a country that legally discriminated against Italian immigrants.
So we come to Thomas Sinclair. Unhappy with the idea that an upstart and knave—and worse a mere “Italian”—had discovered America, he spoke out at the time of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which as the Pan-Columbian Exposition was celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage, though a year, late about the Sinclair claim to American glory. (This same World’s Fair featured the recreated Norse boat that many believe inspired the Minnesota Viking hoaxes, like the Kensington Rune Stone.) Thomas Sinclair founded an organization, the Society de Santo Claro (Sinclair in Latin) to promote the idea. He differs from most other Sinclair theorists in that he conflated the usual Henry Sinclair with his immediate successor, Henry II Sinclair, and claimed that the latter was the trans-Atlantic voyager. This isn’t really important.
What is important is what Thomas Sinclair thought happened when Henry II got to America. At the July 1893 meeting of the De Santo Claro Society, he bluntly claimed that Henry II “annexed America to his principality,” and thus the continent truly belonged to the Sinclair family. Worse, he claimed that the “continent never lost its white representatives,” who reigned over the benighted Native Americans. Just look at this, as reprinted in his Caithness Events:
Norse and Scotch were hardly the kind of people to neglect the possession of lands, not to say kingdoms; and there is no proof that they did not, again and again, plant colonists whose descendants are now in New England and on other parts of the Atlantic shore. White men would have thus been continuous in America from the ninth century till now, a most interesting problem to authenticate. It is true that Prince Henry, according to the Zeno biography, gave up at one time a colony there; but the book does not come to the close of his life; and he and his great-hearted son, Prince William of Orkney, Lord Nithsdale, Baron of Roslin, and the first recorded Earl of Caithness of his surname, were not the men to be baulked of their high objects. A land without limit like America, would appeal to their heroic persistency; and it is almost assured that they repeated again and again their occupation of the continent. Everyone knows of the traditional rumours that Christian bishops were among the Red Indians, some ascribing their advent to Ireland, some to Wales, whose Celtic books are full of a western land beyond the seas in much earlier centuries than those of Prince Henry and Prince William. It is most akin to historical fact that the clerical and laic white men of Indian legend, were colonists and conquerors from Scandinavia and Scotland; the annexing of savage kingdoms to the church of the pope being, especially in the 14th and 15th centuries, a positive madness of the brain. The Spaniards led by Columbus thought more of the conversion of the Indians to Christianity than they did of gold, though of this they are credited to have been supreme lovers. Later, Mexico and Peru had to be saved, and such salvation! The former, it is true, was by priest-sanctioned cannibalism a pandemonium of blood; and Christian fire may have purified that cookery horror off the face of the earth, as moral sanitation. The New England districts have yet a tale to tell, of Europeans, a century earlier than the Spaniards, carrying the religious and material civilisation of Europe and Asia there; and it may be provable that the remnant never died out, though the puritans of the “May Flower” claim to have been the pioneers of Yankeeland or Englishland. Englishmen, at all periods, have had the useful trick of assuming too much in their own favour; and the nonconformists who left old Plymouth of England to found the new Plymouth of America, had enough of this valuable quality of Emerson’s self-reliance about 1620, when they fled from Archbishop Laud’s ecclesiastical tyranny, to forget that there were whites there long before them. Indeed, the marvellously developed social condition of the Red Indians, with their communal long houses, suggests Norwegian and Scottish training grafted on mere savagery. Fiske exhibits the Delawares and the rest of the native tribes, or six nations or more, in lights absolutely novel to those with the preconceived ideas obtained from Fenimore Cooper’s romantic novels. But enough, in so untrodden but not unpromising field. The De Sancto Claro Society has, however, inquiries and successes in this direction also, as nothing has been more striking than recent American advance in knowledge of the primitive races; scientific precision by and bye perhaps to be able to distinguish external influences over their highly-articulated popular life. Celtic and Norse literature is full of shadowings of ancient intercourse from Europe to America; and such dreamings nearly always, in research, prove to be founded on facts of some extent. The want of historians and the accidents of time have blotted out many a chapter of human experience, now beyond our imagination to fathom; but the acuteness of learning recovers wonderful gold-dust from the river of the past, which becomes in due time coin and currency. It is already pretty certain that the Norse and Scotch heroes left a sprinkling of population, who ruled the Red Indians to some extent, and amalgamated with them. The French half-breeds of Canada show how it could have been done; for before the “brave” was taught the use of gunpowder, he was not the cruel intractable creature with whom the modern mind is familiar. Who is not aware of the freedom with which missionaries went from tribe to tribe in the earlier European periods of America? One lay stranger was so beloved by them that he was called universally their “father.” He, Dr. Patrick Sinclair, was only one of many, from others, too, than the English and Scotch, who experienced ease in guiding these so-called savages; the French at all times most insinuating and charming visitors, whom they never tired of welcoming, with whatever excess or want of wisdom. (pp. 165-167)
And there you have it. Thomas Sinclair was deeply prejudiced against Italians, Native Americans, and the English and thus was extremely pleased to be able to concoct a story whereby the Teutonic Norse and Celtic Scottish “heroes” worked together to reign over a continental kingdom of submissive “red” peoples and raise them up from savagery through tutelage and injections of superior European DNA. But it gets worse. Thomas Sinclair felt that the Henry Sinclair myth was an important step to combating the racial contamination of America:
But to some of the brightest minds of America the burning question has of late been whether the Latin or Saxon race is to have the supremacy of their country; the intense activity of Roman Catholicism contrasted with the apathy of Protestantism giving philosophers and statesmen pause as to the near results, notwithstanding the power of science and reason. The glorification of Columbus in the discovery centenary of 1892 was an aid towards the threatened Spanish or Latin domination; and Scandinavian energy has been in movement, especially at the Chicago Exhibition of 1893, to counteract the southern tide, by ascribing the discovery of America to Norsemen of the Teuton stock, including, as principal factors, the English and the Dutch. Caithnessmen [i.e. the Sinclair bloodline], especially of Canada and the United States, have the strongest personal interest in such a gigantic Armageddon contest of blood and belief, if it is to be early fact. (p. 178)
He concluded by expressing his wish that white northern Europeans would go forth in conquest of “property, knowledge, and rule as of yore.”
When you read the Sinclair theory in such bluntly racist, ethnocentric language it sort of lays bare all the subtext that modern appeals to DNA, diffusionism, and free inquiry work to conceal. This is the legacy of nineteenth century race theory, with its pyramid of development leading from the dim minds and animalistic souls of the dark-skinned to the pure light of God’s own white man: The Native Americans are just too damn primitive to have things like “houses” and “social structure.” They are too racially inferior to have a moral sense until white genes raised them up. (Odd, isn’t it, that Thomas Sinclair had no problem with the Aztecs and Incas having cities? What made them less racially inferior?)
Modern proponents of the Sinclair-Templar-Bloodline nonsense probably never give even a moment’s thought to this subtext, but it’s there, and it is disturbing. How much worse is it to compound this with the modern claim that isn’t just Teutonic-Celtic DNA but the actual seed of God impregnating America with His blessing?
3/29/2013 06:38:09 am
As a supposed proponent of scientific method, it's fascinating to me how you weave half-statements together to bend the truth Jason.
3/29/2013 06:54:02 am
Steve, you know as well as I do that your website says you are investigating such claims, and I even used the word "investigate" and the conditional conjunction "whether" in describing your work. Is there something factually inaccurate about this?
3/29/2013 07:05:49 am
By the way, just so we're clear, you write on your website:
3/29/2013 06:55:02 am
I think a study of DNA in Native Americans and in Europeans could cast light on the topic, supporting either position. My understanding is that, in general, Native Americans have tried to prohibit the study of DNA in burials. I suppose that may extend to the living as well. I'm not an expert on DNA but it seems that the mix of ancestors and when they came into the gene pool can be assessed. It would be particularly interesting to study the Nordic DNA. I would be surprised if no Native American slaves were taken back by the Vikings and no interracial children were born there. On the other hand the reverse also probably happened.
4/4/2013 11:41:19 pm
Potential evidence of just such a thing happening (Native Americans being brought back to Europe by the Vikings) was discovered as part of a genetic study of Icelanders. It was discovered that some Icelanders have an unusual mitochondrial DNA, classed under the haplogroup C1. Haplogroup C1 is found primarily in Northeast Asia and the Americas, and is rare in Europe except among people with recent immigrant ancestry.
6/16/2013 11:44:50 am
Interesting... my fiance, whose name happens to be Thomas Sinclair. Is Scottish & part Blackfoot Indian.
3/29/2013 09:18:20 am
Steve, I reviewed Jason’s article twice and I went to your website as you suggested. I consider myself an independent, thinking person and not a "follower." It looks to me that Jason has accurately quoted from your site to make key points.
3/29/2013 09:45:59 am
Did he really think the US would accept/acknowledge his claim to the continent even if it WAS factually accurate!?
3/29/2013 10:33:51 am
I seriously doubt it. Thomas Sinclair was many things, but delusional probably wasn't one of them. Instead, he wanted to launch a Scottish pride movement and promote Scottish advancement and causes. He would have recognized that the Treaty of 1783 categorically ended all British claims to America, including those of any Scots, who were represented by the British Crown. Instead, Thomas Sinclair was looking to promote what we might today call "white pride," and recognizing early Scottish claims was as good a reason as any to deny Native Americans rights.
The Other J.
3/29/2013 10:36:20 am
No such claim could or would ever be seriously entertained. But from the claimant's perspective, it offers the opportunity to cry foul and assert aggrievance or disenfranchisement, even from a position of relatively high social power. It does feel a bit like two bald men fighting over a comb, though. (Can't remember where I read that, but I like the description.)
3/29/2013 10:00:56 am
Scientific method and critical thinking. This can be a bit difficult to understand and master. I recently came across a concise description of what it entails here:
3/29/2013 03:55:44 pm
Good link, Cathleen. I do think it's important to make a distinction about how strongly something is being claimed, and whether it's really a claim at all, or just innocent conjecture.
3/30/2013 03:54:27 am
What I'm basically saying is that many things require a bit of faith to help move along. I am somewhat trained to have faith in what I'm doing, because without faith it is impossible to please God. Has anything been done on earth stretching back in time that required faith? All kinds of things.
The Other J.
3/29/2013 11:00:06 am
You have to wonder what someone like Thomas Sinclair would have made of a place like Cahokia if he could have seen it during it's height (like in the 13th century, when it was as large as London). Or what he would have made of it if the city's sheer size was known of back in his day.
3/30/2013 03:40:46 am
You wrote: "Is there something factually inaccurate about this?" in your first paragraph.
3/30/2013 04:01:05 am
Here's where I am having trouble, Steve. I can't square what you just wrote to me now with what appears on your website: "My hypothesis is that, when enough myths persist, there may be a grain of truth in them. There may be some basis in reality to the legends of our association with the Templars, a Holy Bloodline, the Prince Henry St. Clair stories about early voyaging to the New World, and more."
3/30/2013 04:03:57 am
Just so we're clear, how does this sentence from your website not imply you are investigating intermarriage? "We need to continue to identify living descendents of the Mi’kmaq tribe who we can test to prove/disprove a connection to Jarl Henry and his crew." How else would Mi'kmaq get Sinclair DNA? I suppose it could just be hooking up, but I was trying to be less crude.
3/30/2013 04:41:33 am
Your direct quote - "Despite his denials, his website states that he has had “no choice” but to investigate whether Native Americans intermarried with the Knights Templar and thus inherited Sinclair DNA."
3/30/2013 04:54:04 am
Steve, I'm not evil and I'll happily fix things when I am wrong. But your website says that you are investigating the "basis in reality" for the Sinclair-Templar connection. Am I supposed to be reading the very web page you personally directed me to read a few weeks ago differently than what it actually says?
3/30/2013 05:34:47 am
My Words - "My hypothesis is that, when enough myths persist, there may be a grain of truth in them. There may be some basis in reality to the legends of our association with the Templars, a Holy Bloodline, the Prince Henry St. Clair stories about early voyaging to the New World, and more."
3/30/2013 06:16:35 am
No one is trying to "trick" anyone, Steve. It's called a "news peg." I explained the reason I was talking about Thomas Sinclair. I learned about his views while researching the "hypothesis" you are "investigating" but apparently don't believe. (You still haven't addressed why you present the material as a matter for investigation to your supporters but as a closed case to skeptics.) It's also true, as you seem to be conceding, that you had no idea Thomas Sinclair was offering these kinds of racist ideas in 1893.
3/30/2013 11:58:28 am
Your words - "...a matter for investigation to your supporters but as a closed case to skeptics"
3/30/2013 12:15:33 pm
Steve, I was parphrasing what you had just finished telling me: "I've said many times there is no real evidence of such a journey." Enough tests that yield no evidence, and the operating conclusion is that there is nothing there. You are again the person who seems to be trying to take multiple positions for multiple audiences.
3/30/2013 06:19:10 pm
"…seems to be trying to take multiple positions for multiple audiences."
3/30/2013 11:38:35 pm
Steve, I am having trouble with this conversation because you have not really addressed any substantive points, nor made any in return; instead, you are trying to direct this discussion into an analysis of grammar and verbiage. I'm sorry if I misread the context of your "diffusionism should be left completely un-explored" paragraph, which, of course, uses its own rhetoric to imply that there is diffusionism which I am ignorning. A "dispassionate" investigator would, of course, have phrased that in neutral language, and I suppose I was simply reacting to your non-neutral language. Perhaps you can understand that.
3/30/2013 03:49:15 am
Just in case the above didn't convince you -
3/30/2013 04:24:40 am
To avoid any possible confusion here, Gunn Sinclair is merely a pen-name. Don't shoot!
3/31/2013 02:14:44 am
I’m one of the readers with the endurance to follow this discussion and my observation is that Mr. Sinclair quickly resorts to non-substantive remarks and personal attacks rather than calmly and professionally address key points Jason is making or inquiring about. A comment like “you’re as slippery as a greased pig” is desperate and childish.
3/31/2013 04:37:27 am
CFC, Endurance does not equal accurately following a discussion. Can you please be more clear? Have some coffee and then come back and try to make sense, okay? You are mistaking personal attacks, in some cases, for humor, or maybe you're confusing me with someone else. It's funny how a select few here perceive an unfairness from me towards Jason.
3/31/2013 04:45:03 am
I see that you did have me confused with St. Clair, after I double-check the greased pig comment. What's funny is that I had commented for the purpose of avoiding that confusion.
3/31/2013 03:58:28 am
"…you present the Sinclair-America story, including the Templar-Holy Bloodline, as an unsolved mystery you hypothesize has truth to it, but when speaking to me you say that there is no evidence."
3/31/2013 04:09:57 am
I understand what you are saying, Steve. But do you understand that there is a connection between the family stories you are investigating (even though you don't believe them) and how those stories originated? Those family legends emerged at a particular time and place for particular reasons, and those who investigate them in the present are obliged to deal with that legacy.
3/31/2013 11:05:54 am
It's perfectly appropriate to peg these claims to the racism that underpins them. It becomes inappropriate and dishonest not to do so.
8/5/2013 03:13:38 pm
I just found this exchange and realize Im a few monthes late but still I have to comment here
Steve St Clair
10/31/2013 05:03:53 pm
This is precisely the behavior that got Robbie booted out the Sinclair DNA study by our members, now numbering over 250.
12/1/2013 08:58:51 pm
I'd like to say something about Thomas SINCLAIR who was nephew to my great great grandfather David SINCLAIR.. I don't think Thomas was promoting the Henry SINCLAIR to North America story to promote Scottishness so much as specifically promoting his own Sinclair line which goes directly back to the Vikings. Thomas was a descendant of the Broynach Sinclairs who were diddled out of the Earldom of Caithness after the death of Earl Alexander in 1765 when their representative was unable to prove a marriage between David SINCLAIR of Broynach and his housekeeper Janet EWING to whom David had children out of wedlock. The marriage did in fact take place but its validity was disputed when the Broynach representative had another crack at the earldom quite a few years later having been with the East India Company in India in the meantime. When a couple of earls died in quick succession with out heirs Thomas mounted a public campaign in newspapers and journals, especially the Northern Ensign (Caithness), promoting the case for a Broynach to regain the title and remove the stain of illegitimacy cast upon their branch during the contests for the earldom after the death of Earl Alexander. The Broynachs go back via the earls of Caithness and the St Clairs of Roslin to Henry St Clair whom Thomas thought went to America, and even further back to a Sinclair knight who arrived in England with the Conqueror. The Sinclairs in Normandy were closely related to the Conqueror. In fact another of the antecedents of the Broynachs was James V of Scotland the grandson of Henry VII of England. The father (grandfather?) of Thomas's Henry SINCLAIR married Isabella of Orkney whose line went back to the original Jarls and Earls of Orkney and Caithness. All these lines ultimately go back to Rognvald the Mighty of More, the right hand man of Harold Fair Hair who united the warring norse kingdoms by conquest. Many many generations later these lines of descendants were reunited in the person of Sir James SINCLAIR 2nd of Murkle whose sons were John SINCLAIR earl of Caithness and David SINCLAIR of Broynach. Earl John it was who was the father of Earl Alexander who died in 1765. David of Broynach was the father of Donald the sailor whose son was James the chamberlain whose son John was the father of George Dunbar SINCLAIR who was the father of Thomas SINCLAIR. Thomas SINCLAIR knew all this stuff intimately and the desire to regain the earldom for the Broynachs was his biggest passion during 1889-1891 and afterwards. Anything adding glory to the Sinclairs was his special mission. Unfortunately his letters to the Northern Ensign often contain glaringly speculative material which in subsequent letters he treats as proven fact, so one does have to take elements of his material with a pinch of salt. Four chapters of his book "Caithness Events," first published in 1894 with a subsequent edition a few years later, concern 'The Broynach Question', summarising the case presented in his letters to the Northern Ensign.
12/1/2013 09:08:03 pm
I forgot to say that the main part Thomas SINCLAIR's campaign to regain the earldom for the Broynach Sinclairs was mounted during the years 1889-1891 when two earls died in succession leaving the way clear for a number of claimants to have a shot at the title. Thomas at first thought my great great grandfather, who had gone to Australia, was the true earl, but then he switched to another candidate, a cousin to my great great grandfather. Then another claimant from the Broynachs came out of the woodwork to have a go at the title, Rev John SINCLAIR who claimed to be descended from a son William of Donald the sailor. Thomas and Rev John slugged it out in the columns of the Northern Ensign as to which of the brothers, William or James the chamberlain, was the elder. It didn't matter because the Committee of Privileges in parliament stuck with the status quo and yet again the broynachs failed to claim the earldom of Caithness.
1/17/2014 02:39:03 am
We are all waiting with anticipation for Steve Sinclairs response to your detailed history, I am sure we follow after his pronouncements of heritage. Thank you.
1/17/2014 02:44:39 am
Jason, assume you are monitoring. The above appears to provide a different perspective on the Steve Sinclairs claim, comments?
1/17/2014 02:51:04 am
I wish all the Sinclairs the best of luck in adjudicating which of their brethren is the most Sinclair-ish of them all. It's really only the British government's business which, if any, they recognize as the legitimate claimant to the title.
11/3/2016 09:43:58 pm
Only the british govt's business? Tell that to the Broynach descendants. It's anybody's business who makes it their business. because Britain is a democracy not a dictatorship. There is nothing to stop interested parties from having another crack at the title.
10/20/2016 06:18:23 am
This blog is very informative about sinclair method and its usage .The sinclair really works for the alcohol addicts .
10/26/2016 07:39:19 am
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